In 2021, the life expectancy at birth in the EU was 80.1 years. In 2019, life expectancy at birth reached 81.3 years but then fell in 2020 to 80.4 (-0.9 years) and in 2021 decreased further (-0.3 years compared with 2020), probably as a result of the sudden increase in mortality because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Life expectancy for women (82.9 years) continued to be higher than for men (77.2 years) in 2021, with both registering further decreases following a larger drop from 2019 to 2020. Compared with 2020, life expectancy for both women and men decreased by 0.3 years. 

Between 2002 (the first year for which life expectancy data became available for all EU members) and 2021, life expectancy at birth in the EU increased by 2.5 years, from 77.6 to 80.1 years; the increase was 2.0 years for women and 2.9 years for men.

This information comes from data on life expectancy published recently by Eurostat. The article presents a selection of findings from the more detailed Statistics Explained article.


Timeline: Life expectancy at birth, EU, 2002-2021 (in years)

Source dataset: demo_mlexpec


At the country level, the highest life expectancy at birth was recorded in Spain (83.3 years), Sweden (83.1 years), Luxembourg and Italy (both 82.7 years), while the lowest was in Bulgaria (71.4 years), Romania (72.8 years) and Latvia (73.1 years). 

Higher life expectancy in the EU in some Spanish, Italian and French regions

In 2021, the regions in the EU with the highest levels of life expectancy at birth were located in Spain, Italy and France. 

The EU region with the highest life expectancy at birth was Madrid (85.4 years), followed by Navarre (84.8 years) and the Finnish region of Åland Islands (84.6 years). Castile and Leon and the Autonomous Province of Trento came next with 84.3 and 84.2 years, respectively, and then Stockholm (84.1 years) with another three Spanish regions: Cantabria and Basque Country (both 84.0 years) and Galicia (83.9 years). The top 10 also includes Île-de-France and Rhône-Alpes in France and the Autonomous Province of Bolzano in Italy, all with 83.8 years. 

On the other hand, the EU regions with the lowest life expectancy at birth were all in Bulgaria: North-West (69.7), North-Central (70.4), South-East (71.0) and North-East (71.2). These regions were followed by Mayotte (71.5) in France, North-East (72.0) and South-East (72.1) in Romania, North Hungary (72.1) and the Bulgarian regions of South-West (72.1) and South-Central (72.2).  

Source dataset: demo_r_mlifexp

For more information

Methodological notes: 

  • In this article, the regional data are presented at NUTS 2 level. 
  • The names of the regions are in English
  • Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg and Malta are single regions at this level of detail. 


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